I remember during my undergraduate years how I would often hear from others the virtues of working long hours once you find a job; the more hours you work it translates into a better career for you. In essence, it was about making your life all about work. I would later find out that this was all a misconception. Unfortunately, those who followed that game plan would do it at the expense of not devoting attention to their personal life. That could include failing to taking care of their physical and mental health. In addition, it could also involve not spending enough time with their loved ones. I have experienced and I have also seen in others how working long hours does not translate into success. Now sometimes you may not always be able to avoid long hours depending on the nature of your work. However, you do not have to just simply work hard during that time.
I am not saying to eschew hard work completely and slack off at your work. Instead, I want you to focus on producing results when you are working. What you produce is after all the end goal that defines your success in your work. Therefore, I advise to be mindful of the time that you put into reaching your end goal.
- You want to be able to avoid doing busy work that just takes up a lot of your time and ends up being very little progress towards your goal.
- You want to work smart; be aware of your time and focus on the tasks that can make a meaningful contribution towards your goal.
- Be creative in figuring out ways how you can get the same result in fewer steps and less time.
Microsoft co-founder, Bill Gates: “I choose a lazy person to do a hard job. Because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it.” Therefore, take the time to reflect on the task that is in front of you.
- Understand the end result that you hope to produce.
- Think about where you are right now, the starting point, and what dots you need to connect in order to reach the end, the result.
- Then review and see if any of the dots are necessary in producing the end result. If they are not, then cut them out of your plan.
When you are working on a project, I recommend periodically reviewing your project plan to see if any of the tasks are still necessary. If you can eliminate any of them from the plan, it's a plus for you in being able to complete the project in less time.
One of my favorite books that I have read is Tim Ferris' The Four Hour Work Week. Whether you are an entrepreneur or a working for a company, there is a lot of great advice in his book that you can apply to your daily life. One of my favorite parts of the book is his discussion on Pareto's principle also known as the 80-20 rule; where 20% of the time spent on work accounts for 80% of the results. Think about that for a minute.
- You don't have to work many hours to generate results.
- Start thinking in the mindset of how often times only a few steps are all that is needed to produce results.
- Spending more time does not necessarily translate into the production of more results. Instead, creative thinking can translate into results in less time.
This might all sound like you need to take shortcuts in your work. That is exactly what I am saying. Without compromising quality, figure out how to do something quicker, because time is an irreplaceable currency and you only have a finite amount of it.